George Klippert was the last man in Canada to be convicted of homosexuality before it was legalised in 1969. He was given a life sentence simply for being gay.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to posthumously pardon hundreds of innocent gay men convicted of sexual offences.
In a press statement yesterday (February 28) Trudeau’s Office said “Klippert’s case was instrumental in the government’s decision to decriminalise homosexual acts between consenting adults.”
“As Canadians, we know that protecting and promoting fundamental human rights must be an imperative for governments and individuals alike – and this includes gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. We have made great strides in securing legal rights for the LGBTQ2 community in Canada – from enshrining equality rights in the Charter to the passage of the Civil Marriage Act. But the fight to end discrimination is not over and a lot of hard work remains. Canadians know our country is made stronger because of our diversity, not in spite of it.”
The mechanic served a four-year sentence for 18 counts of ‘gross indecency’ in Calgary in 1965.
He was the first and only person to be held in preventive detention – essentially, a life sentence – because a judge found he was likely to continue to seek out other men for sex after he was released.
Details about the review – such as who would oversee it and how many cases will be reviewed – are expected to be released in the coming days.
Trudeau’s spokesman, Cameron Ahmad, went on to say that Trudeau intends to recommend a pardon be granted posthumously to Klippert under the “royal prerogative of mercy,” which is the ancient right of the British monarch to grant a pardon or clemency and “the review will determine if a pardon is warranted for any of the men who were convicted.”
In Canada, the pardon is granted by either the Governor General or by cabinet.
Klippert was released from prison in 1972 and died in 1996 at the age of 69.